Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Highland Council edging toward a new coalition?

I haven't yet seen this story online, or indeed in any other printed media than in the Nairn 'journal of record' The Nairnshire Telegraph (no online presence), but they report in their issue of Tuesday 1st July that a new coalition between the largest Independent 'grouping' and two of the other political groupings, the LibDems and Labour, may replace the collapsed Independent/SNP coalition.

A novel idea, apparently, is that the present Convener, Councillor Sandy Park, will more or less retain his title, but will hold the position jointly with local LibDem 'leader' Dr Michael Foxley.

The naivete of Sandy Park never ceases to amaze me; he is quoted several times in the article, but the most surreal quote attributed to him, out of a number of somewhat 'off the wall' remarks is certainly this one:

There was a question of who would be Convener. I was not prepared to give it up. Cllr Foxley will be the political administrative leader. I will chair the meetings and I will still be the face of the council. The only difference will be the political leader.

- although this one is probably at least as startling:

The independent group is now a solid group which will take the administration forward. I am now quite relaxed that we have the blend of people who can move forward.

In an editorial in the same issue, The Nairnshire Telegraph opines thus:

... And while Cllr Park may claim that his independents are now a more cohesive bunch, that boast is only as good as the next political test. Will their new partners find the independents as awkward and uncertain as the SNP appeared to have?

And have the independents, in taking on the LibDems and Labour, not just leaped from the frying pan into the fire? The whole business of party politics via proportional representation was a LibDem wheeze to gain power and look how they made their play at the start of this council. Will this lot not be just as demanding as the outgoing Nationalists? ...

I think that is a pretty fair summing-up of the whole notion that a grouping of nominally-united Independents can ever form a cohesive force when confronted with a group with genuine political interests (however misguided, in my view) in common. I expect there will be more turbulence to come in the affairs of Highland Council!

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